Know the difference between CV, Resumé, Biodata and Cover Letter

CV vs Resume vs Biodata vs Cover Letter

It’s the beginning of your career, and you are at that place where you need to create an enviable, merchandisable profile on paper that immediately catapults you into the thick of hiring situations. Well, the first step is to understand the different concepts of this profiling business and which one of these profiles do you specifically need to create, to land your dream job or internship.

In this article, we explain in detail the key concepts of a CV, a resumé, a biodata and a cover letter, and discuss in some depth the difference between them.


A CV or a Curriculum Vitae literally translates to “course of life”. It is a detailed compendium of an aspirant’s accomplishments, educational degrees, skills, professional affiliations if any, scholarships, publications etc. arranged in chronological order. It’s generally two or three pages long.

A CV is more commonly used by aspirants in academic profiles, education, science, medicine, research etc. They may also be used by freshers or recent graduates who have fewer specific skills to highlight. An article in outlined the following pointers as information necessary to be included in a CV:

Contact information: Includes candidate’s full legal name, phone numbers and email address. It is more and more rare to include one’s physical address in recent times as employers are less likely to contact aspirants through the mail.

Academic history: Includes chronicle of the aspirant’s academic accomplishments starting with the most recent one and tracing back to the earliest, telling a coherent and impressive, albeit bona fide story of the aspirants’ academic enterprises over the years.

Awards and Honours: List of awards received if any and the name of the organization that accorded it and in which year. A short description of the award, such as when it was started and with what objective may be mentioned if desired, to shed light on its weightage.

Professional experience: Includes names of the organizations the aspirant has worked with, the position that was held and a succinct delineation of the duties involved, once again in reverse chronological order. Naturally, for freshers, the focus will be on their academic history section and research and publications.

Qualifications and skills: a space to enumerate the candidate’s skills, done in a way to match them with the job description so as to highlight the most relevant ones first.

Skills are often times transferable, so in case you don’t have the specific skills the hiring department is scouting for, use this space to talk about how the skills you do have are transferable and fit for the position you are contending for.

Publications: Includes the name, date, summary and link of any publications. Credits are to be mentioned for co-authors or citations.

Grants and fellowships: Names of grants and scholarships secured are enlisted here, along with the year in which received and the name of the awarding body.

Licenses and certificates: The candidate uses this space to include names of certificates or licenses earned in reverse chronological order, along with the year in which they were awarded.

Extracurricular or Volunteer work: This section comes in handy, especially if there are any inexplicable gaps in the course of one’s academic, professional history. Adding a bona fide volunteer experience adds context and lends continuity to the story the candidate is telling through his CV.

Personal information (optional): It is not usual to include your birth date or age on the CV. Information regarding nationality is also unimportant. Information like age or nationality can be used unduly to discriminate against candidates. The same is true for including information about an aspirant’s marital status.

Hobbies and interests (optional): This section though optional has the potential to become that only small space in the CV that can allow the employer a little glimpse into the candidate’s personality outside of his work. If the aspirant has any authentic and interesting hobbies, it’s harmless to include them here unless completely irrelevant.

For example, for a candidate applying to a position in finance at a Big Four company, it is incongruous to mention his fondness for extreme sports.


A resumé is a list of past jobs and relevant job experiences. It is a French word that literally translates to ‘extract’ or ‘summary’. It may be a page or two long at the most. It is a customized document aimed to include the specific highlights of a person’s career, relevant to the particular job or position they are applying to.

So, while a CV is a standard document, which will not change depending on the occasion, one’s resumé, on the other hand, becomes a more customized document that is susceptible to changes depending on the position that one is forwarding their candidature for.

A person might as well have a separate resumé for applying to corporate positions, and a completely different one for applying to positions in advertising, or arts for example. A person may be multifaceted or have several talents. They will then have different resumés to highlight and market each of such saleable expertise.

A hiring manager reads scores of resumés on a daily basis and spends no longer than 6.2 seconds on an average looking at one. It is therefore imperative to keep a resumé short, crisp and informative.

A CV has been aptly described as a scrapbook of one’s life, while a resumé is a picture. A standard resumé is expected to include the following pointers:

Contact Info: Includes the candidate’s name, phone number and email address. One may include their LinkedIn profile or other relevant social media handles here. One may also include their professional title under the name.

Resumé Summary or an ‘In Short’ Section: This is a short opening paragraph for a good resumé. It should contain a summary of career history, qualifications and a personal statement regarding one’s professional objective. It is important to stay succinct, and the standard length of this paragraph is four to six lines.

Education: A list of the aspirant’s educational achievements and degrees and certifications in reverse chronological order along with the name of each institution attended and the year of graduation. GPA scores may be included when they are impressive or outstanding.

Work Experience: This is the core of a professional resumé. It should contain an exhaustive list of all past jobs titles held by the candidate ordered either from most current to old or based on their degree of importance. A concise description of the responsibilities performed in all such roles needs to be included, as well.

Skills: It is advisable to list the skillsets that are most relevant to the job description. Highlight transferable skills such as Cultural Intelligence or EQ (Emotional Intelligence), Active Listening, Communication and Interpersonal Skills along with core and more technical ones. The section may be divided into Key Skills and Additional Skills.

Certifications and Licenses: Includes list of certifications, name of the certifying or accrediting body as well as relevant dates.

Languages: If the candidate is bilingual or speaks one or more second languages, this section may be used to flaunt it. Languages must be listed along with the aspirant’s proficiency level in them such as a native speaker, fluent, conversational or basic.

Awards and Honours: This section may be alternatively titled Accomplishments and Achievements, depending on whether the candidate wants to highlight their professional awards or present anecdotes to highlight the occasions in which they used their exceptional expertise in matters to salvage the team from a risky situation and received the management’s appreciation and recommendation. Awards must also be listed in reverse chronological order.

Interests: This optional section is a space for including the aspirant’s personal interests such as art, music, collecting, travelling, or reading. If there are personal interests which might be transferable to the job requirement, they must be skilfully integrated here.

For example, including an affinity for a team sport like basketball or football may demonstrate that the candidate is a team player and will integrate himself with the work team easily. An interest in puzzles and crosswords may translate to analytical skills and problem-solving abilities.

Publications and Presentations: Add your publications or research activities along with the title and year. It is crucial to include sources like magazines, journals or websites where they were published. For people who do not have many publications, they may use the space to highlight their Extracurricular or Volunteering Experience.


Biodata is an abbreviation for biographical data. It is basically everything that a resumé is, but also includes several personal information about the candidate such as, date of birth, gender, religion, race, nationality, residence or marital status. Obsolete in the professional domain, biodatas enjoy some popularity in the sphere of matrimony as marriage biodatas continue to be used by some.

Also read:

Top 10 Elements to Put on a Resume for Securing a Job

Cover Letter

The Cover Letter is completely different from a CV, Resumé or Biodata, expect the one similarity that each of these documents is intended to stress a candidate’s fitting adequacy for the position in question. A cover letter may be viewed as a complementary accessory that must always accompany any of the above documents.

A mediocre or unprofessional cover letter that fails to impress the hiring manager might mean they will just toss away the application even before they get to the candidate’s CV. It is the first interaction; one is going to have with their prospective employer; hence it is important to get it right.

The way to do that is to come across as professional, clear-headed and interesting and to give the hiring manager enough intrigue and incentive to schedule you for an interview.

The standard length of a good cover letter is 250 – 300 words. The objective of the cover letter is to introduce oneself to their prospective employer. This can be broken down into a few paragraphs to keep it engaging. The first one may be used to address the employer with a proper salutation and talk about the position one is applying for.

In the next paragraph, one may mention the years of experience and the skills that make him or her extremely suitable for the position. They may cite any portion of the CV or Resumé where supporting information and artefacts may be found. This will seamlessly create an incentive for the hiring manager to look at the CV.

In the final paragraph, the candidate may invite the opportunity for a future conversation or meeting with his prospective employers and express his conviction that he is ideal for the position and able to make a difference and a lasting impression.

We hope it will now be easy for you to discern whether you need a CV or a resumé or biodata to apply for the position you covet. Whichever one of these you choose to write, we recommend you don’t forget to create a delightful cover letter to go with it.

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